Part Nine: End

    Einsam was sitting on the stairs when Meirth returned from depositing Taketori at his room, playing with a long curved knife. The Sequencer gazed calmly up at Meirth, face expressionless although he knew Meirth could feel what he was feeling- the choking bitterness and the hatred that grew by the minute. The two Agents stood there, staring at each other in silence for a moment. Einsam didn't feel like dealing with Meirth right now. What he wanted was a battery, but the machine was still charging. He had to wait.

    "You need something to occupy your time," Meirth said thoughtfully. "If you hate Schuldig so much, why don't you take Farfarello into your bed? I'm sure the man will be fun to play with, and it will be a bit of revenge against your orange-haired man."

    "He's not _my_ orange-haired man," Einsam answered calmly. "He's yours."

    Meirth gave a slight shrug. "Do what you will, but don't just sit there. It looks tacky." He continued on his way.

    "You never minded before," Einsam said softly after his retreating back. Meirth didn't respond. Einsam stood, making his way upstairs. He soon found himself in a small room, and he sat down against the wall, trailing his fingers along the ground. This room had been the room where Meirth had first taken him. There were still blood stains on the floor, soaked into the carpet. Back then Einsam had only been thirteen, in awe of his twenty-six year old boss, wanting to share a bed but wanting to be older before doing it. Meirth practically raping him had been his birthday present to celebrate him being a teenager.

    ~Happy birthday to me,~ he sang dryly to himself. Remaining still like this was the worst thing to do, because there were so many things he could do next. He could leave and go to over a dozen places, he could stay for this amount of time and then leave, or this amount, or this amount, and all of the reactions that came after that were affected by the few extra seconds he remained. His mind was taking great pleasure in showing him everything he could do. ~Well, I can't be in any more pain than I am now, though I wish they'd leave so I could sleep,~ he thought wearily as he allowed himself to go through each sequence. He did have several hours of time left before Meirth would leave his new toy's side and remember his existance.

    Einsam's eyes closed tightly. Was it so bad, to wish that those three years together meant something? This pain over Meirth's actions hurt more than sequencing did. He curled into a tight ball, hugging his knees to his forehead. His breathing was loud and raspy in his ears. If he stayed here and kept sequencing, he was going to lose his grip on reality. Which was worse- to go around mostly insane for a while, or to stay in reality and think about how Schuldig had replaced him as Meirth's favorite?

    ~I don't want him,~ Schuldig's words came back to him.

    ~Well _I_ do! No one else can have him.~ Einsam slowly uncurled. He needed to go someplace where he wouldn't have so many memories. His walk took him to the small "dungeon" and he ducked into the shadows where he could not be seen. No one would bother him here. He leaned against the wall, making himself comfortable. Ah, nice and quiet...He could feel himself start to doze off when a low groan rose into the air. Irritated and curious at the same time, his eyes darted around for the source.

    ~Who dares to disturb me?~ He sniffed absently. ~What a corny sounding line. I wonder why they use it in so many places. They used it in that Disney movie...What was it? Ah yes, Aladdin. That tiger head said it. Ooh, scary, you know? Jeez.~

    ~Shut _up_.~

    Nagi came into view, leaning against the bars of a door. Einsam had forgotten three of the captives had been placed down here. The telekinetic frowned slightly. "Farfarello?" the boy called quietly, then louder: "Farfarello, you awake?" There was no reply. "Crawford? Schuldig?"

    "Nagi?" Not Schuldig's voice, but the blond Weiß's. What was his name? Omi. Tsukiyono Omi.

    "Omi! Where are you?" Nagi pressed tighter against the bars. A few feet down to his right a hand came into view. They were in side by side cells. Nagi moved against his wall, holding his hand out. "Here I am, Omi."

    Omi's hand disappeared and reappeared next to his, their fingers locking together. Einsam blinked, an odd chord being struck within him at the sight. Why did seeing such a thing affect him so? He studied them in silence a moment, seeing Nagi's eyes close and relief wash across the younger boy's face. There was something pure about what those two had...It wasn't like what Meirth and he had had together- it was what Einsam had _wanted_, but their relationship had mainly revolved around business and physical pleasure. The little that those two boys, those two enemies, had was sweet and innocent. It was hard for Einsam to swallow and he looked away, trying to block them from his mind. He didn't care about them. They could all die and go to hell. See if he cared. Nope, not him.

    "Where is everyone?" Omi asked. "I think I see Farfarello in that cell across from you, but there's no one in the cell opposite me."

    "I'm not sure. I tried the Schwarz bond, but Schuldig's not answering mine and Crawford's calls."

    ~That's because Schuldig's probably busy,~ Einsam thought snidely, and immediately regretted it when several images came to mind. He bit down fiercely on his lower lip, hands clenching into tight fists that left fingernail marks on his palms. There was rattling and clanging, then the sound of a heavy door opening. Several guards sauntered down the hall, stopping to study Nagi and Omi. Einsam returned his gaze to the group. Both boys were glaring defiantly back at the soldiers. One man nudged his partner. "Isn't that cute," he sniggered. "The babies are scared."

    "Come closer and call us babies," Nagi threatened. Omi squeezed his hand in warning.

    "What are you going to do, boy, send me flying across the room?" The man seemed to find this incredibly amusing, for he doubled over and laughed loud and long. Finally his merriment died down enough that he was able to straighten. "Anywho, the machines are up and running. It's time for you two to pick who is going to go first. Shall blondie over there get his memory washed first, or should you?"

    "How about neither?" Nagi retorted.

    "Stay away from us," Omi said at the same time.

    "Blondie goes first, then?" a guard asked.

    "Don't you touch him!" Nagi threatened as the guards moved towards Omi's cell. "If you lay one finger on him I'll kill you!"

    "Why are you complaining?" one guard retorted. "Once his mind is washed he'll be yours completely. He'll follow you and do whatever you want him to. You know, like Einsam-sama is. Meirth-sama has him totally whipped. Einsam-sama would follow him straight to hell and back, and not care that he got burned along the way. Isn't that wonderful?"

    "I don't want that!"

    "Get away from me!" Omi yelled. From Einsam's position he couldn't see the inside of Omi's cell, but he could hear the sounds of fighting. Omi's hand was wrenched out of Nagi's suddenly, and Nagi cried out.


    The blond was yanked back into his view, held by two guards and struggling like a demon. One guard jerked his head towards Nagi. "Bring him along so he can watch." They all laughed, thinking it was a great idea, and moved to Nagi's cell. Nagi prepared himself to fight, though it was obvious he wasn't used to it. He was used to relying on his powers, not hand-to-hand combat. He gave his best when the guards came at him, but it wasn't good enough. He was soon pulled into the hall, securely pinned between a couple guards. He kicked at them, swearing and yelling threats, but his actions only caused more laughter among the troops. The two boys were brought away, leaving Einsam alone.

    The Sequencer took a long, deep breath, tilting his head back and gazing up at the ceiling. His mind was very carefully playing out a sequence. It was slow and single track, with no other branches coming off of his actions within it. He let it play out. It was absurd. It was highly, highly foolish.

    And he was going to do it.

    ~German beauty, our fates are sealed.~


    Nagi's blood ran cold when he and Omi were shoved into a large room. A machine like the one from their first kidnapping was sitting in the middle of the room. He was pushed roughly into a chair and shackled to it. Omi was dragged towards the machine. Nagi struggled in his bonds. "Omi!"


    Both boys were gagged. Nagi could only watch and thrash as Omi was chained to the machine in an X fashion. Electrodes were attached to his head, and the men stood around the machine to argue over settings. Blue eyes met blue eyes, both pairs wide and frightened. Finally the command was punched in. The machine began to hum and lit up light blue. The light spread down to Omi, making his shackles glow. The electrodes lit up. Omi made a muffled sound of pain, eyes closing tightly. Nagi could not make himself look away, though he wished with all his might that he could.

    In three minutes, Omi would be brainwashed and gone. Nagi let out a quiet sound of despair, struggling in his chair harder. Not Omi. Omi shouldn't have to go through this.

    The door opened. One guard turned. "Hey, no one's supposed to come..." He trailed off. "Hey!!"

    Nagi twisted to look. Standing in the doorway, holding a wicked looking knife and looking like a cat who'd come across a nest of baby birds, was Farfarello. The madman slowly raised his knife to his mouth and licked it. "Good morning," he rasped.


    There was a knock on the door. Taketori looked up from where he was licking at Aya's chest. The Weiß's entire body was tense, and his wrists and ankles were bleeding from where he'd yanked at the shackles. Taketori was going really slow to draw things out. Aya really hated him for it. As soon as he was free Taketori was going to be torn into a small puddle of Taketori bits. The heavy man left the bed, heading for the door and muttering irritably under his breath. Aya tried his handcuffs again, looking around the room for the umpteenth time. No magical sharp tool had appeared during his struggle to help him get free. The only knife in the place was the one Taketori had used on his shirt and had been about to use on his pants, but that weapon was still clenched in the man's hand.

    The door opened. "Who is it? Oh. Einsam." The braided boy at the door didn't respond. His calm gaze remained on Taketori, who shifted after several moments under the scrutiny. "What do you want? I'm kind of busy." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder towards the bed. Aya lay still, watching.

    "May I watch?" Einsam entered the room without waiting for an answer. Taketori turned to tell him to get out but stopped. The way Einsam was moving was with an unconscious sensual grace. Aya could almost _see_ Taketori's eyes light up. The door was shut quietly. Einsam paused at the head of the bed, reaching down a slender hand to touch Aya's bloodied wrists. Aya's face was expressionless as he returned the gaze. Inside, his mind was shouting a dozen questions: Where is Ken? Where is Yohji? Where is Omi? Where's Meirth so I can kill him? Where's a key so I can get loose?

    Not that Einsam would answer any of the questions if they were to leave Aya's mouth.

    "He's a quiet one," Einsam commented, leaning bonelessly against the headboard as he moved his hand towards Aya's face. Aya was briefly surprised when he felt the younger man's hands against his cheek. The skin was smooth and soft, and cold to the touch. Not to mention Einsam was trembling. Aya processed this right as he turned his head and bit at the hand. Einsam had already moved it out of the way, possibly having foreseen that that was going to happen in a sequence.

    "You look a little bit lonely, Einsam." Taketori was slowly moving towards the man, his intent clear in his eyes. Einsam didn't seem to see what was going on, and Aya didn't warn him. "You want to watch, eh? Why don't you participate?" He grabbed Einsam by the upper arm and whirled the man around, slamming the boy's back against the headboard and pressing his mouth to the Sequencer's. It was a disgusting thing to see, and Aya dropped his eyes from their mouths quickly. Einsam made a sound of revulsion in the back of his throat. Aya was about to look completely away when he saw Einsam's hand moving. Taketori didn't notice, too busy plundering the younger man's mouth. Aya watched as Einsam wrenched the knife from Taketori's hand and pushed the man away. Taketori stumbled, off balance, and Einsam moved in, hitting Taketori's neck with the hilt of the dagger. The man crumpled.

    Aya stared. ~What's going on here?~

    Einsam crouched, digging through the heavy man's pockets. He lifted a key triumphantly and returned to the bed. "What are you doing?" Aya asked.

    "What does it look like, kitten?" Einsam unlocked Aya's hands. Aya grabbed his elbow.

    "Why?" Aya insisted.

    Einsam's face was calm and expressionless as he gazed at Aya. "Your team mates could be anywhere in this building. Omi is already taken care of. Crawford is in room 112. Get him first." He wrenched out of Aya's grasp, tossing the key onto the bed so Aya could undo his ankle shackles. He flicked his fingers at Taketori as he dropped the knife to the ground. "And take care of fatty over there. If you want a katana, there's a sword display room two doors down."

    He turned and left quietly, closing the door again behind him. Aya didn't hesitate. He didn't know why Einsam was doing this, but at the moment it didn't matter. What mattered was that he was now free. He snatched up the key and quickly unchained his ankles. It was easy work getting from this room to the one with the swords, and he picked a light but deadly sharp katana and returned to Taketori's fallen body. He wanted the man to be awake when he killed him. He fastened the sheath to his belt and put the katana in it, then lifted Taketori to the bed and shackled him there. Later he would return and kill him. Right now he had to find the others.

    Find Crawford first? Why would he want to do that? Then again, it would be wiser to do that because he had been told exactly where the pre-cog was. Einsam had not told him where his team mates were. Aya left the room, glancing at the nearby numbers. These doors were in the three hundreds. A peek out a nearby window showed him to be several floors up. If the door numbers were arranged by floors, then he had to make it down two flights. Where were the stairs? He set off at a silent but fast pace, keeping his ears and eyes alert.

    He didn't run into much trouble, and soon found himself on the first floor. He paused a moment in a darkened corner of the hall, cleaning the blood off his katana onto his pants. Several guards were approaching. He readied his sword. They were all unarmed. Foolish people. As soon as they came within range he leapt. "Shi-ne!"

    They only had time to utter one strangled yell before all of them laid dead upon the ground. Aya searched their pockets for anything useful. One man had a ring of keys. Aya took that and hurried on. 110. 111. 112. He tried the knob. Unlocked. Aya let himself in, sword ready for any trouble. The room was empty except for Crawford, who was strapped to a long table. Aya closed the door behind him, moving towards the man. Crawford turned his head towards him.

    "I saw you would come," Crawford spoke up, "but I didn't see how you got free."

    Aya sliced the bindings. "Einsam," he replied curtly.

    Crawford blinked. "Most surprising." He slid off the table and adjusted his glasses. They eyed each other for a long moment. Aya didn't want to be anywhere near Crawford, but he knew they had to work together, and they were both used to leading. Omi had usually been the one to work on strategics, but Aya was the one that led while they followed. Crawford didn't do much of the fighting, but Schwarz followed his command. So which one of them would lead while the other trailed behind?

    Crawford finally made a gesture with his hand. "I believe it will be easier if you are in front. You have the weapon, after all."

    Aya didn't reply, merely headed towards the door. Crawford padded silently behind. Aya opened the door to peer out. He thought he heard voices but he couldn't be sure, and he couldn't concentrate because Crawford was so close he could feel the man's breath on his neck. He turned his head to say something rudely, but the words died on his lips when he bonked noses with the other man. Why was Crawford so _close_? Startled violet eyes widened, amused brown eyes watched. After a long, tense moment Aya reached up and pushed Crawford back a foot, turning to survey the hall again. That had been...unnerving.

    No one. He slipped out the door, and Crawford followed.


    "Meirth-sama!" an urgent voice cried over an intercom.

    Meirth looked up towards the ceiling, his hand still trailing across Schuldig's stomach. The telepath's skin was pale and blood trickled from his mouth. Jade eyes were closed tightly and lips were drawn to a thin hard line to prevent any pained sounds from escaping. "Who is it and what do you want?" Meirth asked.

    "There's been a problem." Meirth sighed. "The officers in charge of switching Nagi and Omi over weren't responding, so I went to check. The men are all dead, sir, and sliced almost beyond recognition. Some are missing their eyes." The soldier's swallow was audible. "I checked the dungeons next. The two boys and the madman are gone. Someone let Farfarello loose."

    "What?!" Meirth exploded.

    Beside him Schuldig laughed softly. There was a hysterical edge to it, true, but it was mocking all the same. Meirth slapped him impatiently. "What should we do, sir?" the guard asked.

    "You should sound the alarm, you idiot, and catch them. Doesn't that sound like a plan?"

    "Y-yes, sir!" There was a click and the intercom turned off.

    Meirth turned back to Schuldig, moving so he was laying on top of the man. "You knew this was happening, didn't you, German beauty? You could hear their thoughts and you knew what was going on, and you didn't tell me. You've been a very naughty boy and you have displeased me."

    "I'm not your pet Einsam," Schuldig managed to get out. His voice was hoarse. "I don't work to please you."

    "You shut up." An alarm went off, high pitched and annoying. "This has been most unfortunate, that I was not warned of this." ~Damn it. Einsam must be so mad at me that he didn't tell me this was going to happen. I'll have to deal with him later.~ "I'm not going to lose you, Schuldig." He unshackled the younger man, raising pain in the German while he did so to keep him unable from fleeing or attacking. Meirth grabbed Schuldig's upper arm and hauled him away from the bed. Schuldig stumbled, biting back a harsh cry at the way moving hurt. Meirth pulled him across the room and opened the door. He wasn't going to let Schuldig get away now that he was so close to having him. There would be no more chances for getting him back, since there were only two Group Agents and Einsam was being sulky.

    Fine, then. He would take care of this himself. While the Weiß and Schwarz were trying to regroup and kill his guards, he would brainwash Schuldig. It was very simple, really.


    Omi rounded the corner and ran smack into someone. He couldn't suppress a small yip of surprise as he tried to scramble backwards. A hand closed on the front of his shirt and he struggled to get away. "Calm yourself, young kitten." Omi blinked and looked up at the familiar voice. Crawford was standing before him. Behind Omi, Farfarello lowered his knife and Nagi let out a sigh of relief. Aya was beside Crawford, a strange but bloody katana in his hand.

    "Aya-kun," Omi breathed, relieved.

    "Are you hurt?" Aya asked.

    "I'm a little woozy, but just suffering from a headache."

    "Someone let Farfarello out," Nagi told Crawford. "He came and rescued us. Omi had already been switched onto the machine, though." He would have said more, but an alarm rose at that time. "Looks like we've been found out. Farfarello left a mess, as usual."

    "Do you know where Ken or Yohji are?" Aya asked Omi. Omi shook his head no. "We need to find them. And Schuldig," he added belatedly.

    Nagi frowned slightly, reaching out to test the Schwarz psychic bond again. /Schuldig? Please answer!/

    /What do you want?/ The question came with a flood of pain. Schuldig was being hurt badly enough that he couldn't keep it off the bond. Nagi gasped sharply, staggering. Someone steadied him but he didn't know who. /You're looking for the Weiß, hm?/

    /Schuldig, where are you?/

    /I'm going for a stroll, that's all. Hidaka is on the first hall. He's in a dining room. Kudou is in the basement somewhere./

    Nagi passed the information to Omi and Aya quickly. "I'll get Ken," Aya said. "Omi and Nagi, you find Yohji. Crawford and Farfarello can look for Schuldig." Aya and the boys set off, but Nagi kept half of his attention on the mental conversation.

    /Where are _you_?/ Crawford demanded.

    /My guess is Hell. I can't tell./ The pain intensified suddenly and Schuldig briefly withdrew from the bond, bringing the emotions with him.

    /Schuldig./ It was Farfarello's voice. He sounded confused. He could hear that Schuldig was in pain, but he didn't comprehend why it was so. As if in response to Farfarello's summoning, Schuldig slid back onto the bond.

    /Ah./ Schuldig said. It was soft. /I've just arrived at the machine room. Meirth doesn't plan on losing me, it seems./

    /Hold on, Schuldig. We're coming./ Crawford beckoned to Farfarello and they took off. /Nagi, join us as soon as possible!/


    Schuldig struggled the best he could, but with his muscles screaming in pain it was hard to move. Meirth dragged him over towards the machine. Schuldig spat German curses when he felt the clamps close over his wrists. ~No! I don't want this! I don't want to lose myself!~ He kicked at Meirth, scoring a blow. Meirth snarled something incoherently and white hot pain suddenly replaced all thought in Schuldig's mind. His teeth clamped down on his lower lip in a fight to stay quiet. A muffled cry did escape, though, as his teeth tore his skin. The pain washed away completely, then, canceled out with positive emotions until there wasn't even a trace to show it had ever been there. Now he was completely locked in.

    Meirth straightened, smiling at Schuldig. "How is that? Comfortable?"

    "Never felt better. Now let me go."

    "You're bleeding." Meirth leaned forward. Schuldig strained to move backwards, but there was nowhere for him to move. Meirth kissed him, lapping at the blood with his tongue. Schuldig tried to bite him and failed. Meirth leaned back, fingers moving to the keyboard. "I am sorry that this had to happen so soon. I wanted to watch you struggle in my bed."

    "Then don't do this," Schuldig said simply. "There's no need to."

    "What's wrong, Schuldig? Scared?"

    "Hah!" ~Yes.~ "I don't know what it means, to be scared."


    Schuldig's head turned as Einsam entered the room. The braided boy picked his way slowly through the mess left by Farfarello. Meirth barely glanced at him. "Where have you been, Einsam? We need to hurry up and get out of here."

    "I understand."

    Schuldig slid into Einsam's thoughts. ~So much red here. Looks like blood. It's the color of roses. I love roses. I only got them once, though. I remember that. Meirth gave them to me when I was being particularly sulky, when I was twelve. Ah, sweet, sweet red roses. Roses are red...~ Schuldig kept his gaze locked on Einsam as the boy approached. Meirth was busy wiping blood off the controls, his back to the boy. Einsam slowly pulled out a gun. ~Violets are blue...~

    "Damn that Farfarello. How the hell did he get out?" Meirth muttered angrily. "Schwarz and Weiß have caused too many problems for us."

    "I agree," Einsam replied. ~Forgive me for this...~ Einsam leveled the gun. "But I love you," he finished aloud, in barely a whisper.

    "What?" Meirth turned around to see what Einsam was talking about, and found the tip of the gun pressed to his throat. "Einsam?" he asked, startled.

    Einsam smiled. It was a sad smile. "I do apologize for this, Meirth-sama, but I will not let anyone else have you."

    "Einsam-" Meirth started to shout, but the rest of the words were never to be spoken. A gunshot rang out and Schuldig closed his eyes as hot blood and other things sprayed him. There was a thud and Schuldig opened them again. Einsam was cradling the gun to his chest, head lowered.

    "You killed him," Schuldig said.

    "I did..." It was a whisper.

    "Why?" Through the noise that was going on in Einsam's head from too long of sequencing without a boost or rest, Schuldig couldn't find any coherent thoughts that would give him the answer.

    "A lot of reasons, I suppose." Einsam still didn't look up. "He doesn't love me, he never has. He forced me to bend to him and mold myself to him so many years ago. He made me love him when he wouldn't return it." A quiet, bitter laugh. "Perhaps I did it because I've been through this machine, too." Einsam reached out, running a finger across the blood-slicked metal. "They put me on it when they first found me. I don't remember anything that happened before that, but..." His voice was hoarse. "I've seen pictures on my file, of a family I don't know anything about. I don't...I don't want anyone else to have to do that. Especially not Nagi." He brought his hand back to the gun. "I saw him and Omi earlier. They weren't doing anything, but the way they feel for each other is obvious. It's pure and sweet. It's what I wanted, with Meirth..."

    Einsam finally lifted his head. His eyes were filled with tears and a few had made their way down his cheeks. Schuldig was suddenly struck by how _young_ Einsam looked. Before, his stone face and quiet appearance made him seem older, if a short older person. But now, seeing the torn expression on the Sequencer's face, he looked like a teenager. Which he was, Schuldig remembered. Einsam was only sixteen.

    "So now, I am the only one left." Einsam lifted the gun, priming it. "Aren't you happy? The Group has just vanished from your life."


    "Do you think," and Einsam's voice was trembling, "that there will be silence on the other side? Do you think Meirth will love me there?"

    Schuldig gazed at him in silence for a moment. "Yes," he finally said, softly. "I do."

    Einsam let out a soft sigh, raising the gun to his temple. "Then good-bye, German beauty."

    A second gun shot rang out.


    A few moments later Crawford and Farfarello entered the room. "Schuldig?"

    "You're a bastard, Brad. Anyone ever tell you that?"

    "You haven't been altered," Crawford observed with a sigh. ~Still the same Schuldig.~ He stepped over the fallen Agents to get to Schuldig. He had seen, on the way here, what was going to happen, and why. He deactivated the machine so that the clamps opened. Schuldig almost collapsed to the ground. Crawford steadied him, an arm around his waist. Farfarello stood off to the side, watching Crawford and Schuldig. "Ready to go home, then?"

    "Where is home?" Schuldig asked. His voice was bitter, his eyes cold and mocking.

    "Who knows, anymore?" But Crawford was already seeing glimpses of the future, of the flower shop, of Omi and Nagi together, of Schuldig and Farfarello. Perhaps the time had come where they got to start over. The Group was gone and dead. Now there was a chance that they could set aside their weapons.

    They made their way across the room. It was slow progress until Farfarello moved forward to help. "God cries," he told Schuldig, as if that made everything better.

    "So he does," Schuldig whispered. He sighed. "What's wrong with the world, anyway?" He shook his head slightly. "Brad, bring Einsam's body. He, at least, shouldn't be left here."

    Crawford paused, then left Schuldig to Farfarello and went to retrieve the body. They made their way from the room, and met up with the other four. In the distance there were sirens, as police came to investigate the trouble. By the time they arrived, the former members of Weiß and Schwarz would be gone.

The End

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